Guest article written by Karen Gallagher, owner of The Lollipop Book Club.
Some kids can read quietly for hours while others can’t seem to sit still long enough to get through a short story. And a whole lot of children are somewhere in the middle. Regardless of where our kids fall on the “book-lover” spectrum, most parents agree that there is plenty of opportunity for improvement.
So how do you go about shifting the pendulum away from the TV and toward a good book? Follow these ten tips and you will see even the most resistant children reading more:
(1) Set an example: Take a look at your own habits. When your kids watch you unwinding after a long day, what do they see? Many times adults do not reach for a book until they slip into bed, long after the kids are asleep. Next time, grab a book rather than the remote control at a time when your reading habits are visible to your children.
(2) Read out loud: Even if your child is an independent reader, it is still important to spend time together reading a good book. For early readers or kids who are struggling a bit, let them just relax and listen to you read sometimes. They will learn to enjoy the entertainment value of a good book without the frustration of struggling through it all alone.
(3) Keep books in the car: At home there are a lot of distractions that can be more appealing to a child than reading a book. But when sitting at a doctor’s office or on the sideline of a sibling’s sports event, a book takes on a whole new
light. So keep a stash on hand for the next time your child needs to pass some time.
(4) Visit the library: If you have not stepped foot in a library for some time, you will be pleasantly surprised at what it offers. A well-run branch has ever-changing displays and attractions for kids. In addition to borrowing some
video games (yes, they have those too!), your child can select a generous number of books to enjoy for a couple of weeks.
(5) Find new places to read: It is good to have a quiet place at home to read. But sometimes it is even better to break the routine and take your child somewhere new to do some reading. Find a bench at a park, sit on your front porch, spread out a blanket in the backyard…you get the idea. Changing the environment breaks up the monotony and keeps it fun.
(6) Let your child pick the books: There is plenty of required reading in school, and that can feel like a punishment for kids who do not have an affinity for books. So take some time to help your child find books he or she finds interesting for leisure reading.
(7) Find books that are below your child’s reading level: Yes, you read that correctly. Children need to feel confident about reading, and they will never feel good about it if every book is a challenge. Rather, encourage your child to pick up a book that he/she will master quickly and easily from time to time.
(8) Set reading goals based on chapters, not time: Reading for a half hour vs. reading two chapters. Which is better? It is important that your child have a tangible goal in mind- one that can be measured by accomplishment. Reading for a
half-hour is not a concrete enough since some of that time may have been spent daydreaming. On the other hand, reading two chapters is a well-defined goal leading to a sense of achievement.
(9) Read the same books as your children: Once your child is able to read chapter books independently, you can still read them too. Take the time to talk about the books and what you liked about them. You will demonstrate to your child that you have an active interest in reading, and specifically in the books your child has chosen.
10) Give books as gifts: A book is by far the best present you can give to a child. Long after the toys are forgotten, books will provide entertainment and educational value. Do something to make your gift of books special, such as writing words of encouragement on the inside cover. You may consider giving your child a gift card to a bookstore and letting your child pick the titles.
Just remember that the way you approach reading as a parent will influence and shape the way your child perceives it. Follow these tips and your child will learn to love and enjoy reading for a lifetime.
Author Bio: Karen Gallagher is the owner of The Lollipop Book Club, a company specializing in the gift of books for children. She has three little ones at home with whom she shares her passion for reading. http://www.lollipopbookclub.com